Hua Yu Wee is a Chinese Zi Char eatery that exudes a touch of nostalgia. The only 1970s seafood restaurant that has stayed at its original location, Hua Yu Wee serves up tasty and beautifully presented old school Chinese fine dining Zi Char dishes at mid-range yet affordable prices, all in a charming colonial setting.
Ambience at Hua Yu Wee channels its colonial past. The huge white mansion houses not only the restaurant, but also the living quarters for staff. And while the indoor air-conditioned area is rather small, there is a large outdoor seating area, sheltered by awnings. I imagine ambience used to be much better in the past when Hua Yu Wee was next to the sea, but reclaimation of land has changed the landscape behind Hua Yu Wee to a jungle.
Service at Hua Yu Wee is old school as well, staff are polite and efficient, with a certain air of elegance. They wear a brightly coloured pattern kebaya top, reminiscent of the national airline, fitting as it seems Hua Yu Wee is now managed by an former cabin crew who retired from flying. That may explain why staff are observant and attentive, generally standing by and observing tables in case they're called.
Master chef Mr. Teo Ah Chye heads up a team of 10 chefs in the Hua Yu Wee kitchen. While the menu isn't extensive, they produce great tasting classic Chinese Zi Char dishes, all tasty and flavourful, and presented beautifully. Small portions are usually enough for a group of 3 - 4 people, while large portions are sufficient for up to 10 - 12 people. And despite the fine dining status, prices at Hua Yu Wee actually cheaper in comparision to other major seafood restaurant brand names.
Hua Yu Wee is highly recommended by regulars of the place, who even know about several off the menu items available here. Reservations are recommended!
The Fresh Prawns And Tomatoes On Ice (SGD $15 per 100 grams), also known as Wasabi Prawns or Sashimi Prawns, is a signature off the menu item only ordered by those in the know. The 1-day advance order ensures only the freshest, juiciest prawns are used, butterfly and laid on ice surrounded by butterfly tomatoes.
The dish is consumed by first dipping the fresh prawns into a mixture of light soy sauce and wasabi paste, then slowly savouring it!
The Crispy Baby Squid (SGD $12 medium) is absolutely crunchy, with a slight sweetness from the marinade. Even several diners who don't enjoy squid gave this dish a thumbs up!
The Chili Crab (SGD $75 for 1.5 kilograms, medium) was delightful. A fresh, meaty crab with roe, doushed with a spicy, savoury, tangy chili sauce, accompanied by crisp Fried Man Tou Buns. Very good, and cheaper than elsewhere!
The Olive Fried Rice (SGD $16) has a interesting textural contrast from rice krispies that are sprinkled over the dish. The olive taste is prominent in the rice, but I thought the overall combination was only decent at best.